Employee engagement surveys offer a stark illustration of the disconnect between the viewpoints of lower-ranking employees and top management. The Economist notes that bosses often believe their companies are compassionate, but their subordinates tend to hold a different perspective.
A [meta study on engagement surveys] found that bosses often believe their own guff, even if their underlings do not. Bosses are eight times more likely than the average to believe that their organisation is self-governing. (The cheery folk in human resources are also much more optimistic than other employees.) Some 27% of bosses believe their employees are inspired by their firm. Alas, only 4% of employees agree. Likewise, 41% of bosses say their firm rewards performance based on values rather than merely on financial results. Only 14% of employees swallow this.
The disconnect between senior management and rank and file employees often arises from limited direct interaction, information filtering, hierarchical barriers, and differing workplace cultures. Senior leaders don’t always fully grasp the day-to-day challenges and concerns of front-line workers.
From my viewpoint, many HR professionals tend to be overly optimistic when evaluating employee engagement, which can diverge from reality. This is partly because rank-and-file employees often perceive HR as less reliable in addressing their concerns, given the belief that HR prioritizes the organization’s interests. Concerns about transparency and inconsistent policy enforcement within HR exacerbate this perception.
Idea for Impact: From the lofty heights where they preside, leaders (and HR folk) can’t make out a world from which they hide.